Welcome to the life of a twenty-something-year-old in 2015 (EDIT: Unless you’re Marty McFly, it may or may not be 2016 by now). Trapped somewhere between the mounting pressure of trying to balance school, work, sleep, and/or a social life, is the weekend. What was formerly the generally accepted best time of everyone’s week, has become just as tedious as the rest of our seemingly unimportant lives. College-age culture has faded into one big, bland socially accepted gray space of wasted-ness, and regret. An entire melody-ridden play on the word “wasted”, is the chorus of the recent track “All My Friends” by UK producer duo Snakehips. Featuring verses and a hook from Chance the Rapper and rising star, Tinashe, is the meaningful ballad about the love-hate relationship that we all know too well. Aside from being one of my personal Song Of The Year candidates, after only a handful of plays, the level at which this song relays my exact current feelings is uncanny.
We open with the vultures, kissing the cannibals
Sure I get lonely, when I’m the only
Only human in the heaving heat of the animals…
Do you get lonely, sure I get lonely, sometimes
Loneliness. Although all too taboo in sappy modern scores (I’ll admit, the first verse, without context of the rest of the song, sounds a little bit like the beginning of a another terrible radio song), is just one of those emotions everyone can relate to. Unless you are one of those miracles that met their true love in the second grade, you’ve been here. You’ve sat at home alone, wondering why. And “The vultures, kissing the cannibals”; Is there any better way to describe the social state of any nightclub you’ve ever been to? The thirsty, thirsty vultures (me, every Thursday through Saturday, lowkey), chasing the heart-eating cannibals, in hopes of avoiding the true walk of shame, which is back home, alone. The first verse concludes with the line “do you get lonely, sure I get lonely” setting the listener up for either a sad conclusion or a joyful twist. A little bit of both is evident.
The hook, disguised as a colorful anthem for the youth, is actually where we hear Tinashe voice the truest sentiments. “All my friends are wasted, and I hate this club, always drink too much, another Friday night (is) wasted…”, she sings, as if the lead of an ironic hipster choir. On the surface this sounds more like the beginning of another one of those “oopsies, I drank a little too much with my friendssss” kind of songs, but soon becomes clear the word “wasted” is not meant in a positive light, as self-realization is met. Tired eyes with a side of disappointment, the antagonist of the track falls back into the same routine, only to do the same next week. Sound familiar?
The highlight of “All My Friends” perhaps, comes courtesy of the indistinguishably druggy verse of Chance the Rapper. Like the rest of the clever span before it, the meaning within this verse is hidden seemingly seamlessly within a singing tone and a medium speed beat. Those unfamiliar with Chance’s catalog may find themselves dazzled by the effortless flow, and let the entire verse fly right over their heads. Cruising through some of the most important lines, like “The nights we won’t remember, are the nights we won’t remember”, and “Friday’s awful chill and I just came to catch a re-, I just had to rest in peace the recipe”, the listener is forced to nod-and-bob, until we slow it down. Going against the teen-taboo that states “the nights I won’t remember” (S/O to Hedley) are the best, Chance expresses his distaste for this foolish remark. Always open about his past use of psychedelic drugs on projects like Acid Rap, the recent father to a beautiful newborn changes pace a tad by voicing the negatives of experimenting. He describes a stoner’s weekend paradise, away from the club, catching a quick fade to help him sleep better, or as Chance so eloquently puts it, “rest in peace”.
Without wasting another 4 or 5 paragraphs describing all of the double meanings in this second verse, I strongly urge you to go check out the full annotated explanation over on RapGenius.
Do you even know me
Sure I get lonely some nights
When the angels on my shoulder
Slump my head
I’m stuck here with the vultures
The final bridge acts as a slight glimpse of hope, helping the listener feel a little less vulnerable, thus transforming the entire vibe of the closing hook.
Tinashe croons blissfully, humanizing herself by voicing the fact that sure, everyone has those lonely nights, but as a 22-year-old, with her entire life in front of her, she’ll not only roll with the punches, she’ll ignore the “shamers” out there as well. She won’t let the adults of the world dictate her actions based on empty threats of unemployment, unhappiness, and unholiness. She won’t let the same aged do-gooders look down on her for the good times that she has, and the risks she takes. She’ll reluctantly stay and face the vultures, maybe giving in now and then, while ignoring the “slut-shamers”. She won’t allow the restrictions of Monday morning to command the actions of her Friday night. Because at the end of the day, isn’t this was being young is about?
Interestingly, the use of repetition on the final hook also helps add to this magnificent, triumphant feel.
Led by the smooth production of Snakehips, Tinashe and Chance the Rapper are able to completely transform a possibly meaningless 3:46 seconds into an entire ballad for a singular lost generation. “All My Friends”. The magical fact that on the surface, the song could be passed as just another teenage-angst filled party-anthem, but genuinely delves deep into the scenario faced on a weekly basis by today’s youth, is something rarely seen. Double meanings are used in lines and phrases across genre’s frequently, but a song with 2 completely different meanings is a #rare occurrence.
As I head into another college weekend, anchored by the same bar, with the same people, doing the same things, and almost inevitably crawling back home alone, I couldn’t feel more blessed. As long as I have my health, all my friends, my freedom, and my youth, what more could I really ask for?
Two words;one love,